TAMPA, Fla. - While extreme measures are being taken across the state to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Seminole Hard Rock Casino Tampa is still open for business.
A state lawmaker is demanding the operation shut down.
“Schools are closed, bars are closed, but the casinos remain open,” said State Rep. Jackie Toledo.
She’s urging the casino to follow the lead of other businesses, and stop allowing thousands of people inside. Toledo told FOX 13 News employees are reporting sick guests, dirty machines, and a lack of cleaning on the gaming floor.
“In a casino, patrons have to touch screens, they touch money, they touch chips, and they touch tables, they are encouraging the spread of this virus,” Toledo said. “There is no reason in this war against the invisible enemy that the Seminole Hard Rock can’t keep its employees and patrons safe.”
A spokesperson for the casino tells FOX 13 News event center shows and large parties have been canceled, the poker room is now closed, hand sanitizer is available, and intensive cleaning is being done, saying in part “More than half of all slot machines have been turned off to add significant distance between guests, plus the number of players allowed at table games has been reduced. And all of this has been accomplished while preserving the current income of the vast majority of team members.”
The statement directly contradicts reports Toledo is hearing from gamers and employees. She says this is neglect on the part of the casino.
“The most vulnerable populations go to the casinos, and my fear is that because it’s open they want to go,” said Toledo.
In Las Vegas, casinos are going dark for at least 30-days after an order from the Governor Tuesday. But Florida has a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe, and because of sovereign immunity, the business doesn’t take orders from the state government.
“They do have guidelines that they have to keep the public health and safety, so this could be something that we could look into further,” Toledo said. “But I’m hoping that they will do the right thing and that we don’t have to shut them down.”
Toledo tells us she has asked Governor DeSantis to look into the situation and hopes the casino will choose to turn off its lights before they have to get the federal government involved.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to email@example.com. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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